An advisory group made of up representatives from the Department of Conservation (DOC), Wellington Zoo, Massey University and Te Papa met today to discuss plans for the future of the emperor penguin that was found on Peka Peka beach last week, and is currently being treated at The Nest – Te Kohanga at Wellington Zoo.
The group has agreed the preferred option for the emperor penguin is to release it in the southern ocean, south east of New Zealand. This is the northern edge of the known range of juvenile emperor penguins.
“The reason for not returning the penguin directly to Antarctica is that emperor penguins of this age are usually found north of Antarctica on pack ice and in the open ocean,” says DOC biodiversity spokesperson Peter Simpson.
The emperor penguin at Wellington Zoo
The penguin will not be released until it is deemed well enough to have a reasonable chance of survival and until that time the penguin will reside at Wellington Zoo.
Plans are still in the early stages however, and more research is required into the logistics and practicalities of this option, including costs.
Sirtrack have offered to provide a transmitting device to be fitted to the penguin before its release that will allow its movement to be tracked remotely via a satellite.
The penguin is in stable condition and is continuing to pass sand naturally. It will be x-rayed again on Friday or Saturday by Pacific Radiology to check on its progress. The penguin is not currently on display to visitors.